"Sex is a key theme with the protagonists describing orgasms, sex and masturbating, constantly and in great detail."
Written by Okwui Okpokwasili, Bronx Gothic has been bought to Melbourne through the partnership between Arts House and New York's Performance Space 122. Okpokwasili is moving jaggedly and frantically as the audience enters. The reverberations travel through the floor and into the audience's chairs. It's gruelling to watch and to feel. White curtains encapsulate the space, bedside lanterns litter the stage floor and a solitary plastic bag is ominously suspended in mid-air. A simple violin harmony plays on an extended loop while Okpokwasili moves, until loud drum and bass makes wandering minds pay attention.
Eventually, Okpokwasili slows, approaches an illuminated microphone and states, "I want to share something with you." It's a conversation, between two 11-year-old girls (one is Okpokwasili), recorded on yellowed and crumpled paper. Sex is a key theme with the protagonists describing orgasms, sex and masturbating, constantly and in great detail., yet this is a vehicle to a broader discussion of racism, gender and growing up with trauma. Bronx Gothic is an uncomfortable and confronting show. Its structure is open and the narrative is often overwhelming and bewildering. Nevertheless, Okpokwasili is an amazing performer, engaging the audience with a fearless intensity. Bronx Gothic is great theatre that makes you think.